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From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The Station at Rome is in the church of Saint Apollinaris, who was a disciple of St. Peter, and afterwards bishop of Ravenna and martyr.

Collect

Præsta, quæsumus, omnipotens Deus, ut dignitas conditions humanæ per immoderantiam sauciata, medicinalis parcimoniæ studio reformetur. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Grant, we beseech thee, O almighty God, that the dignity of human nature, which hath been wounded by excess, may be cured by the practice of healing temperance. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Epistle

Lectio Danielis Prophetæ.

Cap. iii.

In diebus illis: Oravit Azarias Dominum dicens: Domine Deus noster, ne quæsumus, tradas nos in perpetuum propter nomen tuum, et ne dissipes testamentum tuum: neque auferas misericordiam tuam a nobis, propter Abraham dilectum tuum, et Isaac servum tuum, et Israel sanctum tuum; quibus locutus es, pollicens quod multiplicares semen eorum sicut stellae cœli, et sicut arenam quæ est in littore maris: quia, Domine, imminuti sumus plus quam omnes gentes,sumusque humiles in universa terra hodie propter peccata nostra. Et non est in tempore hoc princeps, et dux, et propheta, neque ho locaustum, neque sacrificium, neque oblatio, neque incensum, neque locus primitiarum coram te, ut possimus invenire misericordiam tuam: sed in animo contrito, et spiritu humilitatis suscipiamur. Sicut in holocausto arietum, et taurorum, et sicut in millibus agnorum pinguium: sic fiat sacrificium nostrum in conspectu tuo hodie, ut placeat tibi: quoniam non est confusio confidentibus in te. Et nunc sequimur te in toto corde, et timemus te, et quærimus faciem tuam. Ne confundas nos, sed fac nobiscum juxta mansuetudinem tuam, et secundum multitudinem misericordiæ tuæ. Et erue nos in mirabilibus tuis, et da gloriam nomini tuo, Domine: et confundantur omnes qui ostendunt servis tuis mala, confundantur in omnipotentia tua, et robur eorum conteratur; et sciant quia tu es Dominus Deus solus, et gloriosus super orbem terrarum, Domine Deus noster.
Lesson from Daniel the Prophet.

Ch. iii.

In those days, Azarias prayed to the Lord saying: O Lord our God, deliver us not up for ever, we beseech thee, for thy name’s sake, and abolish not thy covenant: and take not away thy mercy from us, for the sake of Abraham thy beloved, and Isaac thy servant, and Israel thy holy one; to whom thou hast spoken, promising that thou wouldst multiply their seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand that is on the sea shore. For we, O Lord, are diminished more than any nation, and are brought low in all the earth this day for our sins. Neither is there at this time prince, or leader, or prophet, or holocaust, or sacrifice, or oblation, or incense, or place of first-fruits before thee, that we may find thy mercy: nevertheless, in a contrite heart and humble spirit, let us be accepted. As in holocausts of rams, and bullocks, and as in thousands of fat lambs: so let our sacrifice be made in thy sight this day, that it may please thee: for there is no confusion to them that trust in thee. And now we follow thee with all our heart, and we fear thee, and seek thy face. Put us not to confusion, but deal with us according to thy meekness, and according to the multitude of thy mercies. And deliver us according to thy wonderful works, and give glory to thy name, O Lord; and let all them be confounded that show evils to thy servants, let them be confounded in all thy might, and let their strength be broken; and let them know that thou art the Lord, the only God, and glorious over all the world, O Lord our God.

Thus did Juda, when captive in Babylon, pour forth her prayers to God, by the mouth of Azarias. Sion was desolate beyond measure; her people were in exile; her solemnities were hushed. Her children were to continue in a strange land for seventy years; after which God would be mindful of them, and lead them, by the hand of Cyrus, back to Jerusalem, when the building of the second temple would be begun, that temple which was to receive the Messias within its walls. What crime had Juda committed, that she should be thus severely punished? The daughter of Sion had fallen into idolatry; she had broken the sacred engagements which made her the bride of her God. Her crime, however, was expiated by these seventy years of captivity; and when she returned to the land of her fathers, she never relapsed into the worship of false gods. When the Son of God came to dwell in her, He found her innocent of idolatry. But scarcely had forty years elapsed after the Ascension of this divine Redeemer, than Juda was again an exile; not, indeed, led captive into Babylon, but dispersed in every nation under the sun, after having first seen the massacre of thousands of her children. This time it is not merely for seventy years, but for eighteen centuries, that she is without prince, or leader, or prophet, or holocaust, or sacrifice, or temple. Her new crime must be greater than idolatry; for, after all these long ages of suffering and humiliation, the justice of the Father is not appeased! It is, because the Blood that was shed by the Jewish people on Calvary was not the blood of a man—it was the Blood of a God. The very sight of the chastisement inflicted on the murderers proclaims to the world that they were deicides. Their crime was an unparalleled one; its punishment is to be so too; it is to last till the end of time, when God, for the sake of Abraham His beloved, and Isaac His servant, and Jacob His holy one, will visit Juda with an extraordinary grace, and her conversion will console the Church, whose affliction is then to be great by reason of the apostasy of many of her children. This spectacle of a whole people bearing on itself the curse of God for having crucified the Son of God, should make a Christian tremble for himself. It teaches him that divine justice is terrible, and that the Father demands an account of the Blood of His Son, even to the last drop, from those that shed it. Let us lose no time, but go at once, and, in this precious Blood, cleanse ourselves from the share we have had in the sin of the Jews; and, throwing off the chains of iniquity, let us imitate those among them whom we see, from time to time, separating themselves from their people and returning to the Messias: let us, also, be converts, and turn to that Jesus, whose hands are stretched out on the cross, ever ready to receive the humble penitent.

Gospel

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Lucam.

Cap. vii.

In illo tempore: Rogabat Jesum quidam de pharisæis, ut manducaret cum illo. Et ingressus domum pharisæi, discubuit. Et ecce mulier quæ erat in civitate peccatrix, ut cognovit quod accubuisset in domo pharisæi, attulit alabastrum unguenti; et stans retro secus pedes ejus, lacrymis cœpit rigare pedes ejus, et capillis capitis sui tergebat, et osculabatur pedes ejus, et unguento ungebat. Videns autem pharisæus, qui vocaverat eum, ait intra se dicens: Hic si esset Propheta sciret utique, quæ, et qualis est mulier, quæ tangit eum: quia peccatrix est. Et respondens Jesus, dixit ad illum: Simon, habeo tibi aliquid dicere. At ille ait: Magieter, dic. Duo debitores erant cuidam fœneratori: unus debebat denarios quingentos, et alius quinquaginta. Non habentibus illis unde redderent, donavit utrisque. Quis ergo eum plus diligit? Respondens Simon, dixit: Æstimo quia is, cui plus donavit. At ille dixit ei: Recte judicasti. Et conversus ad mulierem, dixit Simoni: Vides hanc mulierem? Intravi in domum tuam: aquam pedibus meis non dedisti; hæc autem lacrymis rigavit pedes meos, et capillis suis tersit. Osculum mihi non dedisti; hæc autem ex quo intravit, non cessavit osculari pedes meos. Oleo caput meum non unxisti; hæc autem unguento unxit pedes meos. Propter quod dico tibi: Remittuntur ei peccata multa, quoniam dilexit multum. Cui autem minus dimittitur, minus diligit. Dixit autem ad illam: Remittuntur tibi peccata. Et coeperunt qui simul accumbebant, dicere intra se: Quis est hic, qui etiam peccata dimittit? Dixit autem ad mulierem: Fides tua te salvam fecit: vade in pace.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Luke.

Ch. vii.

At that time: one of the pharisees desired him to eat with him. And he went into the house of the pharisee, and sat down to meat. And behold a woman that was in the city, a sinner, when she knew that he sat at meat in the pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment; and standing behind at his feet, she began to wash his feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. And the pharisee, who had invited him, seeing it, spoke within himself, saying: This man, if he were a prophet, would know surely who and what manner of woman this is that touches him, that she is a sinner. And Jesus answering, said to him: Simon, I have somewhat to say to thee. But he said: Master, say it. A certain creditor had two debtors: the one owed him five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And whereas they had not wherewith to pay, he forgave them both. Which therefore of the two loveth him most? Simon answering, said: I suppose that he to whom he forgave most. And he said to him: Thou hast judged rightly. And turning to the woman, he said unto Simon: Dost thou see this woman? I entered into thy house; thou gavest me no water for my feet, but she with tears hath washed my feet and with her hairs hath wiped them. Thou gavest me no kiss; but she, since she came in, hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint; but she with ointment hath anointed my feet. Wherefore I say to thee: Many sins are forgiven her, because she hath loved much. But to whom less is forgiven, he loveth less. And he said to her: Thy sins are forgiven thee. And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves; Who is this that forgiveth sins also? And he said to the woman: Thy faith hath made thee safe: go in peace.

What consolation there is for us in this Gospel, and how different are the reflections it suggests, from those we were just making upon the Epistle! The event here related does not belong to the time of our Saviour’s Passion; but, during these days of mercy, does it not behove us to glorify the meekness of that divine Heart, which is preparing to grant pardon to countless sinners throughout the world? Besides, is not Magdalene the inseparable companion of her dear crucified Master, even to Calvary? Let us, then, study this admirable penitent, this type of love faithful even to death.

Magdalene had led a wicked life: as the Gospel tells us elsewhere,[1] seven devils had taken up their abode within her. But, no sooner has she seen and heard Jesus, than immediately she is filled with a horror for sin; divine love is enkindled within her heart; she has but one desire: to make amends for her past life. Her sins have been public: her conversion must be so too. She has lived in vanity and luxury; she is resolved to give all up. Her perfumes are all to be for her God, her Jesus; that hair of hers, of which she has been so proud, shall serve to wipe His sacred feet; her eyes shall henceforth spend themselves in shedding tears of contrite love. The grace of the Holy Ghost urges her to go to Jesus. He is in the house of a pharisee, who is giving an entertainment. To go to Him now would be exposing herself to observation. She cares not. Taking with her an ointment of great worth, she makes her way in to the feast, throws herself at Jesus’ feet, washes them with her tears, wipes them with the hair of her head, kisses them, anoints them with the ointment. Jesus Himself tells us with what interior sentiments she accompanies these outward acts of respect: but even had He not spoken, her tears, her generosity, her position at His feet, tell us enough; she is heartbroken, she is grateful, she is humble: who but a pharisee could have mistaken her?

The pharisee, then is shocked! His heart has within it much of that Jewish pride which is soon to crucify the Messias. He looks disdainfully at Magdalene; he is disappointed with his Guest, and murmurs out his conclusion: This man, if He were a Prophet would surely know who and what manner of woman this is! Poor pharisee! If he had the spirit of God within him, he would recognize Jesus to be the promised Saviour, by this wonderful condescension shown to a penitent. With all his reputation as a pharisee, how contemptible he is compared with this woman! Jesus would give him a useful lesson, and draws the parallel between the two—Magdalene and the pharisee. He passes His own divine judgment on them, and the preference is given to Magdalene. What is it that has thus transformed her, and made her deserve, not only the pardon, but the praise, of Jesus? Her love: She hath loved her Redeemer, she hath loved Him much; and, therefore, she was forgiven much. A few hours ago this Magdalene loved but the world and its pleasures; now, she cares for nothing, sees nothing, loves nothing, but Jesus; she is a convert. Henceforward she keeps close to her divine Master; she is ambitious to supply His wants; but, above all, she longs to see and hear Him. When the hour of trial shall come, and His very apostles dare not be with Him, she will follow Him to Calvary, stand at the foot of the cross, and see Him die who has made her live. What an argument for hope is here, even for the worst of sinners! He to whom most is forgiven, is often the most fervent in love! You, then, whose souls are burdened with sins, think of your sins and confess them; but, most of all, think how you may most love. Let your love be in proportion to your pardon, and doubt it not: Your sins shall be forgiven.

Humiliate capita vestra Deo.

Esto, quæsumus Domine, propitius plebi tuæ: ut quæ tibi non placent respuentes, tuorum potius repleantur delectationibus mandatorum. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Bow down your heads to God.

Be propitious, O Lord, we beseech thee, to thy people; that, forsaking what displeaseth thee, they may find comfort in keeping thy law. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Let us close this Thursday of Passion-week with the following devout hymn, taken from the Mozarabic breviary.

Hymn

Verbum Patris quod prodiit factum caro;
Agnus Dei peccata mundi auferens;
Ad te venimus cernui, ut inclytum
Bibamus almæ Passionis sanguinem.

Ostende vulnerum sacrorum stigmata:
Exsurgat insignis crucis fortissimum
Signum, quod in vigore perpetim manens,
Credentibus salvationem conferat.

Arundo, clavi, sputa, potus myrrheus,
Corona spinarum, flagella, lancea,
Impressa sunt damnationis verbera:
Jam nostra pro his cuncta dele crimina.

Fons vulneris sacri riget præcordia,
Lavet cruor malitiæque contagia:
Sit vita præsens absque omni crimine:
Futura detur in beato munere.

Ut cum resurgendi dies effulserit,
Orbique regni claritas illuxerit,
Sequamur ætheris viam quæ nos trahat
In se receptos jam perennes incolas.

Honor sit æterno Deo, sit gloria
Uni Patri, ejusque soli Filio
Cum Spiritu; quæ Trinitas perenniter
Vivit potens in sæculorum sæculis.

Amen.
O Word of the Father, that camest into this world, and wast made Flesh! O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world!
to thee do we come, and, in prostrate adoration, beseech thee to give us
to drink of the Blood shed for us in thy sacred Passion.

Show unto us the marks of thy divine wounds!
Let the invincible standard of thy glorious cross be raised on high,
and, by its imperishable power,
bring salvation to them that believe.

The reed, the nails, the spittle, the gall,
the crown of thorns, the whips, the spear
—these were the instruments of thy sufferings:
oh! cleanse us by them from all our sins.

May the Blood that gushed from thy sacred Wounds,
flow on our hearts and purify them from their stains of guilt,
enable us to pass through this world without sin,
and give us, in the next, the reward of bliss.

That when the resurrection day shall break upon the world,
brightening it with the splendours of the eternal kingdom,
we may ascend by the path that leads above,
and dwell in heaven, citizens eternal.

Honour be to the eternal God! Glory be
to the one Father, and to his only Son,
together with the Holy Ghost: the almighty Trinity,
that liveth unceasingly for ever and ever.

Amen.

Let us again borrow from the Greek Church the expression of our devotion to the holy cross.

Hymn
(Feria V. mediæ Septimanæ)

Securis quam Elisæus ex Jordane retulit, crucem significabat, qua ex profundo vanitatis retraxisti gentes lætis vocibus cantantes: Benedictus es, Deus patrum nostrorum.

Lætantur cum terra, cœlestia ob adorationem crucis tuæ; etenim per te angeli et homines conjuncti sunt, clamantes: Benedictus Dominus Deus noster.

Compassionem tamquam cupressum suaveolentem, fidem tamquam cedrum, veram charitatem tamquam pinum afferentes,[2] Domini crucem adoremus, glorificantes eum qui in illa affixus est, liberatorem.

Extendisti manus tuas in ligno, incontinentis manus peccatum dissolvens; lancea vulneratus es, eademque inimicum sauciasti. Fel gustasti, et male blandam malitiam exemisti; aceto potatus es, qui omnium lætitia es.

Ligno peccati interemptus sum, guetuque voluptuoso morti traditus. Vivifica me, Domine. Excita jacentem: fac me cruciatuum tuorum adoratorem, et participem divinæ resurrectionis, et cohæredem eorum qui te diligunt.

Gaudii signum, armatura invicta, apostolorum decus, pontificum robur, vires suffice languenti animæ meæ, et dignare me ut te adorem, laudesque tibi decantem, damans: Omnia opera Domini, laudate Dominum et superexaltate in sæcula.
The wood wherewith Eliseus drew the axe from the Jordan, was a figure of thy cross, O Jesus! wherewith thou didst draw, from the depths of their vanities, the nations that thus sing to thee in joy: Blessed art thou the God of our Fathers!

The heavens rejoice together with the earth, as we venerate thy cross; for it is by thee that angels and men are united and sing: Blessed is the Lord our God!

Venerating the cross of our Lord, and venerating our Redeemer, who was nailed upon it, let us present him a threefold homage:[2] our compassion, like the fragrant cypress; our faith, like the cedar; our love, like the pine.

Thou didst stretch forth thy hands upon the cross, to show that ’twas thou didst destroy the sin done by the hand of licentious man. Thou wast wounded with the spear, that thou mightest wound our foe. Thou didst taste gall, that thou mightest turn evil pleasures from us. Thy drink was vinegar, that thou mightest be a joy to each of us.

I have eaten of the tree of sin, and it was my ruin; I have tasted a pleasure that has caused me death. Bring me to life, O Lord! Raise me from my fall. Make me an adorer of thy sufferings, a partner in thy Resurrection, a coheir of them that love thee.

O cross! thou standard of joy, thou armour invulnerable, thou glory of the apostles, thou strength of pontiffs: supply my languid soul with power, and oh! may I venerate thee, and thus cry out thy praises: ‘All ye works of the Lord, praise the Lord, and extol him, above all, for ever!'

 

[1] St. Mark xvi. 9.
[2] This is an allusion to the tradition, that the cross was formed of the three kinds of wood here mentioned. (Translator.)